Wednesday’s Oakland school board meeting has a packed agenda.
Some of the highlights:
- three charter renewal hearings (no decisions or recommendations yet), for Aspire’s Golden State College Prep, Oakland Charter Academy Middle School, and East Oakland Leadership Academy
- discussion of the oversubscription problem at Crocker Highlands Elementary and possible changes to the recently moved attendance boundaries at Crocker and Cleveland elementaries
- a fiscal update (including school closure savings estimates)
- retirement tributes to school board members Noel Gallo and Alice Spearman. Though last I checked, Spearman fully intends to keep her seat, so this seems a bit premature.
SCHOOL CLOSURE SAVINGS
On Slide 19 of the financial report, OUSD staff give an accounting of the costs and savings created by the closure of four elementary schools. It reports a net, ongoing savings of $3.2 million, after accounting for enrollment losses.
One-time expenses totaling $2.67 million diminish that considerably, for this year anyway; those include transportation, portable classrooms and transition services.
I also didn’t see a mention of Lazear Elementary School in the closure analysis, but maybe it’s on another slide. If you recall, Lazear became a charter school, leaving the district, after the Oakland school board voted to close it, along with the other four schools.
Roughly 75 percent, or 160, of last year’s Lazear kids in grades K-4 are no longer in OUSD, staff reported at the last meeting. That enrollment loss amounts to about $800,000 in general-purpose funding. Even if you factored that into the equation, the ongoing savings would be $2.4 million, above the original $2 million savings estimate.
BUDGET CUTS LIKELY FOR COMING YEARS
Student enrollment (to be precise: Average Daily Attendance) was 750 lower than expected this fall, to the tune of $3.9 million. Add to that an 8.5 percent increase in health care contributions 2013-14 and in 2014-15, and that puts some pressure on the budget.
District staff estimate they will need to cut $6.1 million from next year’s budget, and $4.3 million for 2014-15 (Slide 18).
SPEARMAN: SAVE YOUR RETIREMENT TRIBUTE
As I scanned through the agenda, I noticed it included tributes to two so-called retiring members of the board, Noel Gallo — Oakland City Councilmember-elect — and Alice Spearman. The trouble is, Spearman has no intention of retiring. Yes, she lost her re-election bid to challenger James Harris, but who has taken him to court, saying he has no right to represent District 7 because he lives in an area of Oakland that’s part of the San Leandro school district.
As my teenage cousin said incessantly in 2009: Awkward!
I sent a message to Spearman, who responded that she’d ask for the tribute to be tabled “until that decision has been made by the court.” Next hearing is set for Dec. 19.